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  1. #41
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    Default Re: quality of 2013 package queens from GA/AL?

    Quote Originally Posted by Adrian Quiney WI View Post
    An interesting question, and not too far off the topic, is what percentage of beekeepers don't have to buy nucs or packages each year to maintain their colony numbers?
    I love this one. Since I learned to make my own bees- I have bought only 3 packages since 2009. I have increased my numbers from 6 colonies then to over 30 not including the 10 a year going out the door as nucs to others.

    But Bluegrass raises a fair question- how will the beekeeping industry survive without many thousands of packages? I can not speak for the commercial side- but Backyard Beekeepers and small scale hobbyists? ONE nuc at a time is how you can change the equation. You said it yourself- it only takes a few frames and a queen to make. Look at that positively- every bee club member with 2 hives can make a nuc each Spring- grow it for a month or less so you know the queen is laying right and it builds up, etc. and it can be a quality one ready for another aspiring or existing beekeeper. Buy commercial queens for a while if you have to. Make Spring nucs at first if that is easier, and then overwintered nucs which can easily be split into 2 in the following Spring.
    But most importantly, learn to make your own bees and teach others to do the same. You can teach your entire club to do this and you will be amazed how quickly there are nucs available to fill the need and how many folks want to join in and contribute to making bees from their own bees. There is no reason that on this backyard small hobbyist level you can not produce nucs for beekeepers to supply half of the need now being supplied by packages within your own clubs. And you know- If you build it, they will come.
    karla

  2. #42
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    Default Re: quality of 2013 package queens from GA/AL?

    Quote Originally Posted by bluegrass View Post
    The divide on this topic is completely biased around here due to the fact that many who unbudgenly back one product or the other either #1. earn income selling one or the other like MP and I. #2. Have experience with only one or the other.
    I don't think so. Three out of the four surveys mentioned, compare nucs and packages. But you seem to want to discount the surveys too.
    karla

  3. #43
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    Default Re: quality of 2013 package queens from GA/AL?

    Quote Originally Posted by winevines View Post
    I love this one. Since I learned to make my own bees- I have bought only 3 packages since 2009. I have increased my numbers from 6 colonies then to over 30 not including the 10 a year going out the door as nucs to others.

    But Bluegrass raises a fair question- how will the beekeeping industry survive without many thousands of packages? I can not speak for the commercial side- but Backyard Beekeepers and small scale hobbyists? ONE nuc at a time is how you can change the equation. You said it yourself- it only takes a few frames and a queen to make. Look at that positively- every bee club member with 2 hives can make a nuc each Spring- grow it for a month or less so you know the queen is laying right and it builds up, etc. and it can be a quality one ready for another aspiring or existing beekeeper. Buy commercial queens for a while if you have to. Make Spring nucs at first if that is easier, and then overwintered nucs which can easily be split into 2 in the following Spring.
    But most importantly, learn to make your own bees and teach others to do the same. You can teach your entire club to do this and you will be amazed how quickly there are nucs available to fill the need and how many folks want to join in and contribute to making bees from their own bees. There is no reason that on this backyard small hobbyist level you can not produce nucs for beekeepers to supply half of the need now being supplied by packages within your own clubs. And you know- If you build it, they will come.
    Your a bit off on your math..... by a factor of about 10. Packages outsell nucs at least 10 to one, why? the reason is simple. NO ONE is produceing anywhere near enough to supply the demand. Despite all the talk, the reality is they are not there... Demand pure and simple... don't you think most guys would love to sell 300 nucs a year? So far I have sold every nuc I can produce, and on top of that close to 500 packages...... People want bees in the spring. Local nucs can't make queens anywhere near soon enough to do well the first year. thats why the majority of nucs have southern queens. Yes some guys do sell wintered nucs. but very rare.
    Here in Il, I still have not grafted a queen, our weather is to lousey to gamble the time.
    Your nuc math is very interesting, but not acurate, and not realistic. and nowhere near the current demand.

  4. #44
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    Default Re: quality of 2013 package queens from GA/AL?

    Experience counts for a lot. I personally have 90-100% success rate with packages the first year. By the second year I have them so split up that I don't consider any of the splits to be a package going into the second winter.

    Now take somebody like Mike Palmer who makes up hundreds of split per year and uses them to replenish his dead outs. He can correct me if I am wrong, but I believe he uses a similar system as Kirk Webster where nucs are inspected in early winter and if they are too weak to make it through they are "blown out". So if he were to fill out a survival survey his success rate would be slanting the numbers because he eliminates the failures before they even get a chance to try and winter. Where as somebody with less experience can't look at their hive and say it isn't going to make it through, so they attempt to winter it anyway and it adds to their deadout rate.

    So yes I discount the surveys... People's management styles very and that has an impact. I attempted to do my own survey last year and the data becomes extremely complicated when you try and incorporate all the variables. And I have extremely high success rates with the packages I install so personal experience tells me that many of the failures are operator error.
    Always question Conventional Wisdom.

  5. #45
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    Default Re: quality of 2013 package queens from GA/AL?

    Quote Originally Posted by gmcharlie View Post
    Yes some guys do sell wintered nucs. but very rare.
    Your nuc math is very interesting, but not acurate, and not realistic. and nowhere near the current demand.
    Some girls make overwintered nucs too. Ask Rosie. : -)
    My math is so off? Is that why our, and other clubs in our region have reduced our dependence on package bees by at least 50%.
    One nuc at a time.
    Yes you can.
    karla

  6. #46
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    Default Re: quality of 2013 package queens from GA/AL?

    Quote Originally Posted by bluegrass View Post
    People's management styles very and that has an impact.
    I agree - a big impact!

    Over the past 12 years, I probably installed about 100 packages of bees for my own use. I can say without hesitation that none of these bees were lost because they originated as "package" bees. Like bluegrass, I have had very good success with package bees over the years. Keep in mind that due to my relative closeness to GA, bees leave GA and are in my yard in less than 8 hrs. If I needed bees, I would not hesitate to buy more. That said, the potential of vectoring "issues" around the country is a big deal to me, and one that could potentially significantly alter local beekeeping. I very carefully monitor any package bee colony for aggressive tendencies. The last two times I installed package bees we purged all drones from the packages upon installation and kill drone brood on routine inspections until the temperament can be completely assessed. So far, aggressive colonies from packages are very rare, far less than some that I've gotten in swarms and cutouts.

    Yes, in an ideal world all clubs would be self-sustaining and not a single package would need to be imported. However, our current local reality is FAR from this ideal. We have five relatively large clubs in our area and we can't even scratch the surface of meeting the demand for locally produced nucs. New beekeepers are VERY frustrated that clubs are advocating not importing bees (basically banning package bees), but can't offer an alternate. Currently new beekeepers get added to a "nuc list" and sit on this list for possibly months. Then, if lucky, they receive a nucs in late July that they need to manage during our death and build-up for winter. My guess is that these are lost with as much or more frequency than packages received in March. For me it boils down to simple economics. I simply can't afford to sell spring nucs. The local market for honey is SO strong, that splitting to make nucs or overwintering nucs is not economically viable. The "big" beekeepers locally are making honey, and only the smaller beekeepers not into making honey are working on meeting the nuc demand. I try to do my part providing queens to our local nuc programs, but it is still and a work in progress.
    Horseshoe Point Honey -- http://localvahoney.com/

  7. #47
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    Default Re: quality of 2013 package queens from GA/AL?

    I see another factor here that no one is mentioning. I suspect that most packages that fail go in a box with 10 frames of foundation and maybe a feeder. If those packages were given drawn comb or foundation with even one frame of capped brood it would make a tremendous difference in their surviveability.

    Johnny
    "Suppose you were an idiot and suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself." - Mark Twain

  8. #48
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    Question Re: quality of 2013 package queens from GA/AL?

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Palmer View Post
    ...I would say package bees have a big problem and I would bet that a higher % of packages fail than nucleus colonies fail.

    Barnstable County Beekeepers report 60% failure of package.
    Beekeepers Association of Northern Virginia report 82% failure of packager to live one year.
    Maine State Beekeepers reported similar results although the numbers aren't in front of me.
    I'll add my two cents in here.

    I've got a whopping 6 years of beekeeping experience <insert sarcasm icon here>, currently maintain around 35 colonies today, and have bought or gotten 6 packages ever in that entire 6 year period. Five of these six are now dead (I don't treat my bees). The sixth package is 2 months old in my backyard, I bought it as a demo this spring for new beeks in our local club (Scottsboro, AL). Three of the five packages-to-hives that are all dead now, died within the first six months of installation. I did everything the books say. I really do not think I was to blame for their demise, but anything's possible. The remaining two limped along for 1.5 years, were actually actually soft-chem treated and never produced any honey...ever.

    I consider myself a disciple of Michael Palmer's methods. Thanks to winevines, Michael, and a SARE grant that winevines wrote in 2008, I was inspired to learn to make nucleus colonies and become sustainable. Today I'm trying to change a package-centered culture here in my southern state of Alabama. But Mike is quick to point out he "didn't invent the chicken or the chicken sandwich", much like "Chik-Fil-A" says, in all this nuc-making stuff. Mike credits Vernon Vickery, R.O.B. Manley, Kirk Webster, Brother Adam and a host of others of nuc-ing as a sustainable, plus much more effective, approach.

    Oh and I made $700 this year selling nucs. Which makes the wife happy that I am not using the day-job paycheck to pay for my hobby. Crossing my fingers this lasts!
    Last edited by fatscher; 05-06-2013 at 10:47 AM. Reason: giving credit where deserved
    "...the most populous colonies ...are provided by queens ...in the year following their birth." Brother Adam

  9. #49
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    Default Re: quality of 2013 package queens from GA/AL?

    Quote Originally Posted by AstroBee View Post
    ...For me it boils down to simple economics. I simply can't afford to sell spring nucs. The local market for honey is SO strong, that splitting to make nucs or overwintering nucs is not economically viable.
    Greetings Astro, and fellow Virginian. I left the Commonwealth in 2010 but consider myself an expatriot. In my tiny experience, I find I make more money selling bees than honey. And I like making more money. So I try to sell bees, more than I try to sell honey. But you probably have much larger yields in honey than I do, obviously higher demand. I harvested about 450 lbs last year, a banner year for me. I just sold out last month, but I only have 2-3 outlets for my honey so far. I'm only into this about 6 years, so that's to be considered.

    My question is this, have you thought about making nucs to overwinter using your non-"honey productive" colonies? Non-productive doesn't mean "weak" ...rather... assuming you have strong colonies that don't make a drop of honey...I have a plethora of those. They didn't make honey this year, why would you expect them to make honey next year (unless you requeen). Me? I look at all my non honey producers after the spring harvest (I get no fall flow/harvest, really), then break those down into summer nucs, overwinter them, then sell for a huge profit in the early spring. I sell my 5-frame nucs for $100 with frame exchange, $110 without.
    Last edited by fatscher; 05-06-2013 at 10:24 AM. Reason: clarity
    "...the most populous colonies ...are provided by queens ...in the year following their birth." Brother Adam

  10. #50
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    Default Re: quality of 2013 package queens from GA/AL?

    Quote Originally Posted by Broke-T View Post
    ... I suspect that most packages that fail go in a box with 10 frames of foundation and maybe a feeder. If those packages were given drawn comb or foundation with even one frame of capped brood it would make a tremendous difference in their surviveability.
    Johnny, it would seem common sense that packages installed on comb would do better, than the same package installed on foundation. All of the packages I ever got (huge number of 6--rolling eyes), I installed two on drawn comb (with a capped brood frame as a booster), and both died within 6 months. The two that limped along for 1.5 years were installed on foundation only. Bottom line it's hard to tell. I also am not your model example for statistical significance, obviously. The culprit of the package failures, strictly my opinion, is the inferior queen stock that is sold with them. Just my thought only, no scientific proof behind that.
    "...the most populous colonies ...are provided by queens ...in the year following their birth." Brother Adam

  11. #51
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    Default Re: quality of 2013 package queens from GA/AL?

    no offense intended carla, Send me your number, I probably have about 300 people I will have call you....

    Get good at it and you will be very wealthy.... over 800k packages sold every year, surely your club can handle that!

    So tell me, how many did you produce?? with normal die off at 30%you need to make roughly 1.3 times as many nucs as you have hives every year.....

  12. #52
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    Default Re: quality of 2013 package queens from GA/AL?

    Quote Originally Posted by fatscher View Post

    My question is this, have you thought about making nucs to overwinter using your non-"honey productive" colonies? Non-productive doesn't mean "weak" ...rather... assuming you have strong colonies that don't make a drop of honey...I have a plethora of those. They didn't make honey this year, why would you expect them to make honey next year (unless you requeen). Me? I look at all my non honey producers after the spring harvest (I get no fall flow/harvest, really), then break those down into summer nucs, overwinter them, then sell for a huge profit in the early spring. I sell my 5-frame nucs for $100 with frame exchange, $110 without.
    Yes, I have consider the MP prescription. I'm at a size where I can sell all of the honey I can produce locally, most at retail prices. I overwinter nucs - not as successfully as MP does , but again, an overwintered nuc is perfectly positioned to make a huge spring crop, which is one of MP's stated advantages. It would be economic folly to sell this in March, April, or May in VA. We had a good spring last year, and several of my overwintered 5-frame nucs that had 3 med supers, and a couple had 5 supers. We sell everything we make for no less than $10/lb. Do the math, there is NO way you can compete selling nucs. If I ever need to sell honey at a much lower price, then making nucs may become economically viable.
    Horseshoe Point Honey -- http://localvahoney.com/

  13. #53
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    Default Re: quality of 2013 package queens from GA/AL?

    Quote Originally Posted by gmcharlie View Post
    no offense intended carla, Send me your number, I probably have about 300 people I will have call you....

    Get good at it and you will be very wealthy.... over 800k packages sold every year, surely your club can handle that!

    So tell me, how many did you produce?? with normal die off at 30%you need to make roughly 1.3 times as many nucs as you have hives every year.....
    You seem to be missing my point(s). Best of luck to you.
    karla

  14. #54
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    Default Re: quality of 2013 package queens from GA/AL?

    Quote Originally Posted by AstroBee View Post
    I'm at a size where I can sell all of the honey I can produce locally, most at retail prices. ...We sell everything we make for no less than $10/lb. Do the math, there is NO way you can compete selling nucs.
    I'm trying to follow ya. I hear ya, but trying to understand. In my attempt to understand I'll use me as an example: I sell my 1lb bottles for $7 each. In Alabama, it's hard to push the Keynesian economic supply demand intersect point above $7 per bottle. I'll concede that up and down the mid-Atlantic coast, $10 a lb is easy pickings. But I'll hypothesize with my $7 per lb bottle, nevertheless. I probably produced somewhere on the order of 250-300 containers of honey this season. Not all of those containers went for $7 each. Some were 12 oz hex jars that I sold for $5. Then there are the wholesales. I sold my lb bottles for $4 each in bulk to stores/suppliers, and hex jars at $3 a piece. Hypothetically, selling my honey I grossed around $1500. I know the math doesn't add. Still, I did not sell quickly. My costs are around $2 per container, labor, empty containers, labels marketing. My costs easily surpassed $500. Honey roughly netted me $800 if you figure in wholesales and different size containers.

    In contrast, I overwintered 16 nucs this year. I could have sold all 16 on the first day of spring for as much as $120 each, but i sold for $110 and $100 with frame exchange. That's gross $1,760. I spent $200 on queens to go into those nucs plus $200 in sugar to feed. $1760-$400 = $1360.

    Nuc sales yielded $1360
    Honey sales yielded ~$800ish?

    I found I could liquidate the nuc product in a single day if I had to ($1360 quickly), but it took me 8 months to earn $800 in honey.


    Quote Originally Posted by AstroBee View Post
    Do the math, there is NO way you can compete selling nucs.
    I just did.
    "...the most populous colonies ...are provided by queens ...in the year following their birth." Brother Adam

  15. #55
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    Default Re: quality of 2013 package queens from GA/AL?

    Let's keep it simple and consider a per colony yield. In my area, a strong overwintered nuc can (conservatively) make 2 mediums in the spring. Our summer flow (cotton and soybean) is typically more, but for simplicity, let's say 2 more in the summer.

    4 med supers of honey = 160 lbs (yes the stated VA averages are totally wrong)
    As I mentioned, I sell it for no less than $10/lb -> 160*(10-1) = $1440 (we have a bottle/label cost of $1 per jar). This neglects my labor costs, and other expenses, but if you're making bees or honey, the expenses are in the same ballpark.

    For this overwintered nuc, assuming $125 per 5-frame nuc, I'd have to sell 11 nucs from this same colony to get this return. In our area, I could probably split 3 or 4 times if I aggressively fed.
    Horseshoe Point Honey -- http://localvahoney.com/

  16. #56
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    Default Re: quality of 2013 package queens from GA/AL?

    Not the math he was refering to I belive..... you can't make enough nucs.... sure you can make money at them.... Thats not an issue. you made 16 nucs, if I split everything I had I could only make 200,
    That would take me back to almost nothing, and only make me 20k, I grossed a bit over 50 on honey last year....

    Keep in mind NO one I know of is saying don't make nucs! knock yourself out... Just quit badmouthing packages. pound for pound a package outproduces nucs, and cost about 1/2 and are avalible at least a month earlier than a nuc. so I can start packages and have a full DEEP before the nucs are ready. Just finished putting 2nd deeps on 40 packages I started March 28th. the nucs started the same day are just now ready, and only 1/2 at that........

    Make money on nucs... its all GREAT,,, just don't make stuff up about pacakges to promote what your products! that all!

  17. #57
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    Default Re: quality of 2013 package queens from GA/AL?

    Interesting "discussion".

    Just out of curiosity, what does a 2013 Michael Palmer overwintered nuc sell for?

  18. #58
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    Default Re: quality of 2013 package queens from GA/AL?

    Carla, If i offended my aplogies. Let me explain a bit, I do understand your point, fully, and totally disagree. We see/ hear it every year. some member at a local club comes out and tells a lot of people packages are bad, nucs are the future!... Maybe someday they will be... but we are a long ways off. let me explain why.
    First Nucs are a bit pricey, a lot of newbies balk at the cost. second supply is terrible. we have Dozens of people who want to get started every year who don't because they have been told nucs only. and dont like the price. Many of the package guys have tried nucs, only to find out customers won't pay the additional cost and transportation hassles. THE biggest package guy in the country built up 800 nucs this year to sell, He still has some left (well not after I called) trouble selling 800, and he moves close to 40,000 packages. thats around 2% take rate at 90.00 each.

    Second timing. DARN few people are selling overwintered nucs. most are makeing spring splits and selling them with a new queen, which means there late for the spring flow in a given region. a 5 frame nuc here is just now getting ready, and will be in no shape to gather surplus in a June flow. (my area only as reference) Packages in the south are ready to start a month before a nuc. and in any given year started together you can tell no differences, to the package being a little faster.

    3rd simple math, everyone in the country would have to make at least 1.3 nucs per hive just to keep up. darn few have the skills to do that they are not available. you yourself I think said you "have cut your dependency 50%" which means even in your little group your not there yet. Most beeks have trouble maintaining there own hives let alone building enough to sell off.

    Now that all said, there are a cpl perks to nucs. you know your queen is laying and presumable well. Albeit there are some scamers out there, I will ignore them as they are frauds. For a new person to not install a package this is a huge deal.
    Your also dealing with a local beekeeper who should be showing you some things also. great deal. and in theory your money stays local....Fantastic

    Acceptance rate on Nucs should be 100%

    In some case Probably less than 20% your getting a local survivor queen. truth is most are built from production queens ordered in.
    I am not against nucs at all.... there fine... What riles me is that some locals with half a dozen hives want to badmouth packages to sell there own nucs, and leave a lot of people not knowing any different.

    Packages have acceptance rate issues, always have and always will. A package is a swarm.. if you look at swarm acceptance and package acceptance you will see the same numbers.
    The MAJORITY of failed packages are from the beekeepers themselves.. how do I know this you ask?? I spent 4 months last year working with several of the largest guys in both coast. and I myself have sold and installed well over 5000 packages in just the last 10 years. about 95% have no problems. most years I am close to 100%, this year was 75% or so because of queens. (compared to less than 60% success on nucs) all weather related in my opinion. This wet cold spring is an issue.
    Every large honey producer out there buys packages to replace lost hive, not nucs..... not cost effective.

    Now I hope you and your clubs sell a ton of them and mentor a lot of people.. just don't distort things, and belittle those who go a different route. Packages have been the bread and butter of beekeeping since the 1920's Don't preach how its all wrong.

    If you want the best and earliest buy a package and requeen it with a queen from your local stock! those workers will all die off soon enough and you should then have the perfect hive...... I do it to 100 or so every year.... and for the record, about 1/2 those great survivor queens don't do any better.

    The point of this site, I hope is to help get the truth out. so when one side gets badmouthed without having all the facts, one should get defensive. I sincerely hope that if you find me posting things you disagree with, call me on it... point out where you or anyone has a different result......

  19. #59
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    Default Re: quality of 2013 package queens from GA/AL?

    Quote Originally Posted by winevines View Post
    But most importantly, learn to make your own bees and teach others to do the same. You can teach your entire club to do this and you will be amazed how quickly there are nucs available to fill the need and how many folks want to join in and contribute to making bees from their own bees. There is no reason that on this backyard small hobbyist level you can not produce nucs for beekeepers to supply half of the need now being supplied by packages within your own clubs. And you know- If you build it, they will come.
    Exactly Karla. And as you know that is my focus.

    Of course there aren't enough nucleus colonies to handle all the bee purchases being made out there. I sell a couple hundred a year...spit in the wind. Those that know me know what is important to me. It's not about me selling you all expensive nucleus colonies. It's about me teaching you to raise your own and establish your own sustainable apiary. Those that have taken up the challenge know what I'm talking about. Wasn't it Adrian Quinney who said that after learning how to winter summer made nucs, he has more bees than he knows what to do with. Same with everyone else, too.

    Now why isn't the management program being practiced more widely? Where is the resistance coming from? I blame those senior club members in charge of beekeeper education who are selling package bees to their students. Think about it...

    If you sell a thousand packages to the beekeepers in your area...what do they cost the re-seller? Maybe $60? How much do they sell for? Maybe $90? How much does handling cost the re-seller? Less than $10? So the re-seller is making at least $20 per package.

    Selling 1000 packages nets the re-seller at least $20,000. Why would anyone bother with all the hard sweaty work and all the possible losses and all the headaches...of keeping bees and making honey?

    Say what you will, that's how I see it.

  20. #60
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    Default Re: quality of 2013 package queens from GA/AL?

    Quote Originally Posted by bluegrass View Post
    On the other hand I recall a thread on here about a month ago about some queens a member claimed they purchased from you last fall and all failed to take the nucs through the winter. The person was quick to take the blame for the failures themselves though so I guess you will not be sending them replacements?
    Well I read the thread you site. Hmmm...you say all the queens failed. Not what I read....

    "I did some late splits. October and November I fed them all winter so far. lost some but less than 10 percent."

    Now first...I can't remember ever selling queens in October and November. My last catches are in early to mid-August.
    And second...making splits in October and November is a bit much even with fresh queens. If he used my queens, they were banked by him.

    Bluegrass, you seem to be trying awfully hard to discredit me and my work. Grasping at straws, eh?

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